Question: If someone is proud, what is the “put off” and “put on”?

God created the most beautiful world when He created the Garden of Eden. It remained incredible, until Adam sinned and God thrust him out of the Garden into a creation that now groans because of Adam’s sin, “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” (Rom. 8:22)

The basis of Adam’s sin was pride. He chose to choose independently of God’s will. He chose to act without asking God what he should do. He chose to rely upon his own sense rather than depend solely on the Lord. That is what pride is. It is the fundamental cause of all sins in life.

The Apostle Paul described how a Christian must learn to “put off” the old man’s way of living and “put on” the new man’s way of living. He said,

22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:22-24 NKJ)

The process of becoming holy will involve putting off self-help or self-dependence and putting on God-dependence, which is “true righteousness and holiness” (also called the filling of the Holy Spirit).  If the put off is pride, what is the put on? Is the put on – humility? Yes, that is true, but what does that mean? Humility is something that always must be related to an authority. Therefore, to put on humility, you must also put on acceptance of authority.

Now, if someone has put on acceptance of authority, that means he has put off rejection of authority. The concepts of pride and rejection of authority go together, just like humility and acceptance of authority. However, they are not synonyms. It is wise to keep the concepts separate for clarity and understanding. They are like two sides of a coin. On one side is pride and rejection of authority and humility and acceptance of authority are on the other side.

The question arises, “From where does pride come?” The Apostle Paul used pride in the passive voice, which means it arises from something. For example, he taught,

3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions,” (1 Tim. 6:3-4 NKJ)

The verb Paul used for “he is proud” means that the individual has become puffed up or conceited as a result of something acting on him.1  The verb for “knowing nothing” is an ongoing action that has happened because of the pride – he doesn’t know anything.2 It is like what Paul wrote, “…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Tim. 3:7 NKJ)  How is it that someone can keep on learning, but not come to the knowledge of the truth? He has already rejected God’s authority, his sin nature acts independently of God’s authority in pride and he chooses for foolishness and sin. Therefore, he will never learn God’s insights and interpretations. He does not have the Holy Spirit guiding him into the Scriptures (Jn. 16:13).

What is making him proud? Pride is the result of his decisions to think highly of himself. It comes from the sin nature, which lifts itself up rather than exalting God’s will. He knows nothing, because he rejects God’s authority. This is the same thing that made Satan proud and started the whole sin rebellion. Isaiah records that pride,

12 “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart: `I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.” (Is. 14:12-14 NKJ)

He became proud, because he rejected God’s authority and as a result God allows him to be futile in his thinking (cf. Rom. 1:21).

Too often Christians just want a simple story to feel good, but that alone does not help them grow. For this reason a technical understanding of the Scriptures is sometimes helpful.  If you understand how pride is central to every sin and how it is related to God’s authority, then you’ll see many more opportunities to grow.

In summary, Jesus gave us the example that we are to follow. He said,

19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19 NKJ)

30I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me. (John 5:30 NKJ)

Jesus had complete humility, because He totally was dependent on the authority of the Father.  Are you?

1The verb in 1 Timothy 6:4 “He is proud” is a perfect passive indicative of tuphoomai, which means to be puffed up or conceited

2He knows nothing is a present passive participle (deponent) of epistamai , which means to understand or to know

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